During periods of very cold weather we occasionally receive enquiries from customers whose boilers do not appear to be working.
Although modern natural gas boilers benefit from being in more insulated areas of the home than other home heating boilers the cold weather can still cause problems.
If you are experiencing problems with your heating system we advise you to contact a Gas Safe Registered Installation Company, ideally the company who installed your system. A full list of Gas Safe Registered installation companies can be found at www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
For your assistance there is a list of installation companies under the Find A Service Agent section of our website who have informed Phoenix that they provide a Breakdown service.
What are some of the problems customers face during cold weather?
Frozen Water Pipes
If you suspect water pipes inside your home have frozen you are likely to experience problems with your heating and hot water. You should at this stage contact your local plumber or Gas Safe Registered Installation Company.
You should immediately locate the stopcock for the mains water into your home to ensure you can isolate the water supply if required.
The stopcock is a valve for turning off and on the cold water supply within your home. When you turn the stopcock in a clockwise direction the water supply will be shut off. You can turn the water supply back on by turning the stopcock in an anti-clockwise direction.
Stopcocks are usually found in your kitchen, below the sink unit.
No water supply to your house
You should contact NI Water by phone 08457 440088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The best way to check if your mains water supply is still operating is to run the cold water tap in your kitchen. If water is available at this point this suggests the main water supply is not frozen.
To learn more about your pipework responsibilities in advance of winter please visit niwater.com/pipework
Frozen Condensate Pipe
All Oil and Gas condensing boilers achieve their high efficiencies by extracting heat from the boiler flue gases.
This process causes the flue gases to cool to a liquid. The condensate pipe takes this liquid away to an appropriate drain which can often mean the pipes runs externally.
The picture below shows a typical condensate pipe, the white pipe is the actual condensate pipe.
During periods of extreme temperatures the liquid in this external pipe can freeze and cause a blockage.
Boilers will detect this blockage and shut down to avoid expensive water damage.
If you think this has happened to your boiler you should contact a Gas Safe registered Installation Company to thaw your condensate pipe and find a permanent solution to the problem.
If you are unable to contact your installer you could check to see if the plastic pipe that runs from your boiler outside is frozen. If it is, you may be able to thaw the plastic pipe as long as it is accessible and you can do so safely.
You can try using warm not boiling water, a heat wrap or a hot water bottle to thaw out the pipe. Don’t try removing or dislodging the pipe but once you apply some heat, the ice should melt or loosen up.
If you have successfully thawed out the pipe your boiler will need to be reset by referring to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In extreme cold weather conditions your meter may become frozen. Please refer to the following video clip on our You Tube channel for advice on how to defrost your meter.
How to defrost your meter >>
We hope that the advice above is helpful in assisting you with your query. On the Phoenix Natural Gas You Tube Channel you will find a number of short video clips that may be of help to customers experiencing difficulties with their central heating system or gas meter. You can see a full list of all the clips available by clicking on 'see all' in both the Uploads and Favourites sections.
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Remember if you at any stage think you smell gas you should call the Gas Emergency Number on 0800 002 001